ASA Meeting Reviews

Dr. Newton Receives ASA’s Nicholas M. Greene, MD Outstanding Humanitarian Contribution Award

Reviewed by Elizabeth T. Drum, MD, FAAP, FCCP
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Mark W. Newton, MD received the Nicholas M. Greene, MD Outstanding Humanitarian Contribution Award on Monday October 24, 2016 at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Chicago.

Dr. Newton receives ASA's Greene Award
Berend Mets, MBChB, PhD, FRCA (Left), Chair, ASA Committee on Global
Humanitarian Outreach, presented Mark W. Newton, MD (Right) with ASA’s Nicholas M. Greene, MD Outstanding Humanitarian Contribution Award on October 24 in Chicago.

The Global Humanitarian Outreach (GHO) Committee of the ASA is charged with selecting the winner of the award, which was created in honor of Nicholas M. Greene, MD who founded the ASA Overseas Teaching Program.  For this year’s award, nine nominations were received.

After the completion of a pediatric anesthesia fellowship at Denver Children’s Hospital in 1992, Mark stayed and practiced in Denver for five years training residents and fellows. During this period, Dr. Newton solidified his interest in global anesthesia while on many short term trips to Central America and Africa. In 1996 after a trip to Kenya and seeing the need for deep-rooted anesthesia development, Mark, his wife, Sue, and their two small sons left the security of a USA medical practice to live in Kenya.  Mark remembers thinking “we have just jumped off a cliff without a parachute!”.

 He developed a program in conjunction with the Kenyan government to train Registered Nurse Anesthetists at AIC Kijabe Hospital where he works most of the year. More than 130 graduates of the program are now working throughout Kenya, primarily in rural hospitals where there are few anesthesiologists. In addition, nurse anesthesia programs have been developed in a Government of Kenya facility in Western Kenya (Kisumu); two in Somaliland; and one for South Sudan, two areas of the world which have few, or no, physician anesthesiologists.

While appreciating the growing pediatric surgical population in Africa, Dr. Newton was instrumental in partnering under the leadership of The University of Nairobi, Department of Anesthesiology to form a pediatric fellowship, in conjunction with the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA).  This pediatric anesthesia fellowship has produced nine graduates who are working in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Rwanda. The SPA is having a truly global impact by sponsoring one fellow per year which includes hosting them for an SPA meeting.

Dr. Newton is a co-principal investigator of a $3 million ImPACT (Improving Perioperative and Anesthesia Care Training) Africa grant, awarded to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Anesthesiology by the GE Foundation in 2013. Dr. Newton has also done work in South Sudan, Somaliland, Nigeria, Zambia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Mexico and in United Nations Refugee camps in his 25 years as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist. 

 Mark remembers a quote about “cliff jumping”, it said “you leap before you sprout wings”. One of those soaring moments occurred just a few weeks ago when walking up the 3-minute dirt path from his home to the hospital, he heard about a 10-day old, duodenal atresia, Trisomy 21 child from a UN Refugee camp in Northern Kenya who needed emergency surgery.  After returning from the ASA where he had received this award, he was reminded by this neonate, who lives in some of the harshest conditions in the world, that each child deserves to have a safe anesthetic. Without more pediatric anesthesiologists in Africa, we can not assure that this will happen. We must respond to this extreme shortage now.

Mark, who has raised five children in Africa over the last 19 years with his wife Sue, is no stranger to the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) and we celebrate with him as this year’s recipient.

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